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Contempt: I’m Not Aware Of Court Order On Dismissed Officer – IGP

The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba, yesterday said he was not aware of any court order on a dismissed officer and his commital to prison..

A Federal High Court in Abuja had  sentenced the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba, to three months in prison for disobeying a valid court order.

The court, in a ruling delivered by Justice Bolaji Olajuwon, held that the IGP, whose men often go after such violators of the law, should be committed to prison and detained in custody for a period of three months, or until he obeys an order made since October 21, 2011.

In his ruling, Justice Olajuwon said,”If at the end of the three months, the contemnor remains recalcitrant and still refuses to purge his contempt, he shall be committed for another period and until he purges his contempt.”

The IGP’s committal to prison followed a suit that was filed by a police officer, Mr. Patrick Okoli, who was unlawfully and compulsorily retired from the Nigerian Police Force.

Justice Olajuwon noted that though the Police Service Commission (PSC) had recommended Okoli’s reinstatement into the Police, a decision that was affirmed by the court, the IGP has refused to comply with the order.

The court had also ordered the payment of N10 million to the applicant as special and general damages for the unlawful, illegal and unconstitutional denial of his rights and privileges as a Senior Officer of the Nigeria Police Force from 1993 till date.

Justice Olajuwon, in a ruling on the contempt proceedings filed by Okoli’s lawyer, Arinze Egbo, also warned the IGP against noncompliance with the earlier court judgement.

“The respondent in this case, the Inspector General of Police, in the person of Usman Alkali Baba, is to be committed to prison and detained in custody for a period of three months or until he has obeyed the order of this court, made on October 21, 2011, in all things that are to be performed, whichever period is shorter,” the judge ruled.

The plaintiff, who prayed the court to order his reinstatement, said he was unlawfully retired in 1992 by the Police Council, presently known as the Police Service Commission (PSC), while serving in Bauchi State Command as a chief superintendent of police, among others.

He said his compulsory retirement, under Decree 17 of 1984, was illegal.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) said it was not aware the IGP was sentenced to three months in jail for disobeying court order.

The Force public relations officer, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said the Police the office of the IGP did not disregard court order or rule of law as the office is not aware of any court order.

The police said with respect to a matter making the round in the media that the IGP disobeyed a court order for the reinstatement of a dismissed officer of the Force, the IGP was not aware as the case was decided in 2011 even before the current IGP, Baba, assumed office.

Part of the Police statement reads: “It is instructive to note that the case in point concerns an officer who was dismissed as far back as 1992, a few years after the current IGP joined the Nigeria Police Force, based on available facts gleaned from the reports.

“The most recent judgement on the matter was given in 2011 which should ordinarily not fall under the direct purview of the current administration of the Force. Thus, the news is strange and astonishing.

“The IGP has however directed the Commissioner of Police in charge of the Force Legal Unit to investigate the allegation in a bid to ascertain the position of the court and proffer informed legal advice for the IGP’s prompt and necessary action.

“The Inspector-General of Police reiterates his commitment to upholding the rule of law and synergizing with the judiciary to ensure quick dispensation of justice for an improved criminal justice system.”

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